Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8 Recap

Chris Piascik's illustration for Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8
Every week, Chris Piascik (@chrispiascik) illustrates a moment from the episode and I write up a recap.

Episode title: “Severance.”
Episode timing: Pretty sure the speech Don watches took place between April 20th, and April 30th, 1970 (when the draw-down was announced and when the incursion into Cambodia was announced). Nixon was announcing the removal of 150K soldiers from Vietnam. Episode 7 was on or around July 20th, 1969, so about 9 months from then. More importantly. It seems like the Manson murders may have been skipped.

It usually takes me 3 or 4 episodes to get in a groove with the recaps, so who knows how this will go. Not very well, probably. Over the years, Mad Men has had series finales with a lot of upheaval, only to start next season with everything smoothed out. Though it wasn’t a finale, the mid-season break last year had plenty of upheaval, and though this isn’t a premier, there was plenty of everything smoothed out. Whatever the agency was called last year, they’ve been merged into McCann Erickson. Notably, Don Draper is still there, and Cutler is gone. (Ted Chaough is there, to, with a great mustache. And he and Don seem to be friendly.)

The first scene in the episode, with Don casting a fur advertisement, calls to mind Don’s first copywriting job at a fur shop.

Don and Dottie: A waitress in the diner looks like Rachel Katz of Menken Department stores (Don likes brunettes), and I wonder if this half season is going to be a rehashing of all of Don’s multi-episode flings. Dottie had a book by Jon Dos Passos, but I can’t figure out the significance. Don thinks he knows her, Dottie thinks he’s soliciting her, and, well, Don goes along with it. “You got your $100 worth, you can go.” “You got your $100 worth, you can go” is a pretty obvious reference to the ‘advertising as prostitution’ theme throughout the show.  When Don goes back a third  time, she seems far more gentle, more empathetic. “When people die, everything gets mixed up.” This scene obviously contrasts with Don going to where Rachel Katz’s family was sitting shiva. Rachel’s sister asks Don what he was looking for and he gets that Don Draper puppy dog thing. He still doesn’t know what he’s looking for.

There’s been at least one (two?) airline attendants on the show, so if we are looking back at all of Don’s flings, Tricia from TWA fits right in.

Peggy and Joan: Peggy and Joan have a problem with panty hose (“We had a problem, but we solved it.”) and when they go to a meeting with their colleagues at McCann…it doesn’t solve the problem. Joan is super pissed and Peggy seems less so. Peggy probably (definitely?) has more experience with this, but at the same time, Joan slept with a client to secure his business for the firm. Peggy seems to blame how Joan was dressed, and the years long, unresolved tension between Peggy and Joan is raw. Their relationship is so interesting, because you can never predict how one will respond to the other. Peggy can’t understand why Joan is so pissed because she doesn’t NEED to work like Peggy does. I think Joan can’t really understand why Peggy would take that abuse and not stab anyone. Peggy’s response is to fall in love and Joan’s response is to go shopping. “I want to burn this place down.”

This plot line was contrasted with Peggy’s interaction with her employee Mathis, “You want a raise? Stop acting like a secretary.” And then, “The kind of girl who doesn’t put up with things.” “Funny,” “Fearless.” Peggy continues to be totally in control and totally out of control. “I thought you were a fling, but now I think you might be more.” “I’ve tried new-fashioned.”

Ken Cosgrove: Ken’s story continues to be up and down. His father-in-law is retiring, but a beneficial replacement is stepping in. His wife wants him to quit, and they fight, and the very next day he gets fired by a smirking Ferguson Donnelly and an in-season-form-with-ridiculous-mustache Roger Sterling. (I think Ferg was drinking from a Sterling Cooper Draper Price Mug?) Pretty sure Ken still hates Pete and maybe vice versa? But anyway, Ken goes over all the accounts and writing, “This world is boring.” I think Pete really does envy Ken. Then Ken gets the last laugh by getting a job at Dow to be McCann’s client. “Shit.”

Did you notice in one of the casting scenes Ted Chaough opens the door to let one of the women in, but Pete lets her out? Ted Chaough also has a ridiculous mustache.

Is That All There Is by Peggy Lee was the song at the beginning of the episode AND the end of the episode

Mad Men Season 7 Episode 8 Recap

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